Snyder hints at Zimmerman's return
By ARNE GREEN
By ARNE GREEN
MANHATTAN — It might not have been the definitive answer that Kansas State fans were looking for, but it was close.
Bill Snyder hinted strongly Tuesday that senior free safety Ty Zimmerman, after missing the last two games of the regular season, would be back in the Wildcat lineup for the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl on Dec. 28 in Tempe, Ariz.
"He's doing well and I'd anticipate him playing," Snyder said.
The return of their senior leader, who went down with a leg or ankle injury in the Nov. 16 home game against TCU, clearly would provide a lift for what is still a relatively inexperienced K-State defense.
"I think they would feel awfully good about it. I would," Snyder said of his team. "But I like the young guy that's been playing (in Zimmerman's place).
"He's done a nice job."
Junior Dylan Schellenberg replaced Zimmerman, a first-team all-Big 12 pick, in the lineup for a loss against Oklahoma and a victory at Kansas to close out the regular season.
"It's huge for the team's mindset," junior wide receiver Curry Sexton said of having Zimmerman back. "Being so close to Ty, it just means so much to all of us because he's the consummate team player and team leader.
"He's one guy that you just hate to see something bad happen to because of how he works and what he means to this team. If he's able to make it back for the bowl game that's going to be such a huge boost for us on so many levels."
Senior linebacker Blake Slaughter said it also would mean a lot to Zimmerman, who came back from an injury last year as well to play in the Fiesta Bowl.
"I think it would mean a lot for him, because nobody wants their last game to be because of an injury," Slaughter said. "They want to go out on their own.
"If Ty would be able to play I know that would be huge for him and for us."
Michigan 'poster program'
When Kansas State's players learned they were going to face Michigan in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, it quickly caught their attention.
"That's exciting," Sexton said of facing the Wolverines for the first time in school history. "As a kid growing up, Michigan is one of those poster programs that you see all over TV.
"You watch them growing up and you kind of idolize them — one of those programs that every kid in the country watch play. The helmets are something that really stands out in your mind."
If any Wildcat player doubted Michigan's pedigree, Snyder was quick to clue them in.
"Michigan is an outstanding football team," senior linebacker Tre Walker said. "They have, I believe, the most college football wins ever in FBS (Football Bowl Subdivision).
"You don't do that by not working hard and not playing hard, so we're just excited for the opportunity."
Snyder said that K-State will have roughly 15 practices in preparation for playing Michigan in the bowl game, a similar number as the Wolverines.
Complicating matters this week is fall semester finals, which make it difficult to get the whole team together at the same time. Last week was graduation and the team awards banquet.
The Wildcats practiced Saturday without the seniors, took Sunday and Monday off, then "squeezed in" practice Tuesday between finals, according to Snyder. They have today off, then work around finals again Thursday through Saturday.
K-State is scheduled to fly to Phoenix next Monday, then practice for three days before a final walk-through the day before the game — kickoff is at 9:15 p.m. central time — at Sun Devil Stadium.